Johansson alien film disappoints, Korean movie shocks at Venice

Tue Sep 3, 2013 1:35pm EDT
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By Isla Binnie

MILAN (Reuters) - Scarlett Johansson as a predatory alien in Scotland got a lukewarm reception and a film about mutilation and masochism that is banned in the director's native South Korea roused disbelieving laughter at the Venice film festival on Tuesday.

Booing followed the customary applause after a press screening of "Under The Skin", a comeback for British director Jonathan Glazer, starring the "Lost in Translation" actress.

Described as "an undeniably ambitious but ultimately torpid and silly tale of an alien on the prowl" by trade magazine Variety, "Under the Skin" is one of 20 new films in competition for a prestigious Golden Lion at the 70th annual festival.

Korean director Kim Ki-Duk screened "Moebius" outside the competition, which he won last year with "Pieta", an absorbing thriller about a pitiless loan shark.

For "Under the Skin" Johansson as the alien Laura was filmed in real-life settings, including a shopping center and a street in a drizzly Scottish town, surrounded by members of the public.

"People would take pictures of you with their cameraphone and not help you, all kinds of strange things," Johansson told a press conference.

This technique was an "important ingredient" in the film, said Glazer, known for the 2004 picture "Birth".

Laura drives around in a white van, stopping to chat coyly with young men in a cut-glass English accent.   Continued...

Actress Scarlett Johansson (C) poses with director Jonathan Glazer (R) and producer James Wilson (L) during a photocall for the movie "Under the Skin" during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi